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Millions in current & planned business expansion make West Memphis a hot commodity

The City of West Memphis is experiencing a boom in business expansion that is validating the cityai??i??s fiscal policy and underscoring its value as a location for new and growing manufacturing and distribution operations.

With three big-ticket projects and multiple smaller expansion projects planned or under way, city leaders estimate businesses are investing about $150 million in facilities located in West Memphis. Mayor William Johnson attributes the big spending to the ease and low cost of doing business in the Eastern Arkansas city.

ai???Itai??i??s no secret that we have a business friendly environment in West Memphis,ai??? Johnson said. ai???We know what our strengths areai??i??low taxes for the area, competitive utility rates and easy access to multiple forms of transportationai??i??and we play to those.ai???

More than $120 million of the expansion dollars are being spent on three large-scale projects:

  • Southland Park Gaming and Racing, owned and operated by global hospitality provider Delaware North Companies, is in the midst of a $37.4 million expansion that includes a 41,000-square-foot building addition that will house up to 500 new gaming machines and a 150-seat themed restaurant and sports bar.
  • Cargill Inc., which recently announced the closing of a corn mill at Presidentai??i??s Island in Memphis, is investing $45 million to build a grain handling and shipping facility in West Memphis that will become a key origination point in the south for soybeans, corn, milo and wheat.
  • Louis Dreyfus Commodities LLC is spending more than $40 million to build a rail and truck served grain storage facility with access to The Port of West Memphis. The investment is linked to a $10.9 million grant the city was awarded from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to expand rail infrastructure at the port. The Dreyfus investment represents the corporate match required by the terms of the grant award.
  • The projects making up the roughly $30 million balance are small but by no means insignificant, Johnson said. They include a $ 9 million investment by the East Arkansas Family Health Center, and the under-construction Woodbridge Behavioral Care Center, valued at $7.7 million.

    A 600,000-gallon tank farm at the Awesome Products facility on E. Broadway, two national chain hardware stores, a Holiday Inn Express and a few as-yet unannounced expansions round out the list.

    Itai??i??s all happening at a time when other municipalities of similar size are struggling. Through the worst of the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, West Memphis managed not to cut city salaries or cut services.

    Johnson asserts that sound financial management has kept the city’s short-term debt low, which in turn has helped keep property taxes in check. Still, the bottom line for businesses is, Johnson says, the bottom line.

    ai???West Memphis is a great place to do business, no matter what your business,ai??? he said. ai???That has not changed and wonai??i??t while Iai??i??m still mayor.ai???

    Ward Wimbish
    Director, Economic Development
    wimbish@westmemphis.com
    870-732-7500





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